Beatboxing – The Fifth Element of Hip-Hop
In his book Know What I Mean? Reflections on Hip Hop, Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson argues that hip-hop as a cultural movement is one of the most genuine representations of the black experience, one which is multi-faceted and contradictory.
Investigating this cultural phenomenon documentary filmmaker Klaus Schneyder makes a case for one of the disciplines within Hip Hop that has not been given due recognition in, BEATBOXING – THE FIFTH ELEMENT OF HIP HOP. Charting developments in audio technology along with a potted history of post-war New York, the film identifies Robert Moses’ controversial Cross Bronx Expressway as the unwitting catalyst for a cultural movement flowering in the deprived areas of the south Bronx. Ignored by the urban planners, residents began to make their own entertainment through breakdancing, graffiti writing, DJing and MCing/rapping (beatboxing forming part of this). Covering much ground in its modest length, the film entertains as well as illuminates both the uninitiated and devotees. But it really comes alive with the mixture of archive footage and performances by current exponents of the discipline – for instance Kenny Muhammad aka The Human Orchestra has to be seen to be believed. Schneyder has composed a fascinating and authoritative film on a cultural form that has developed beyond markers of race and class and cross pollinated with other cultural fields such as film and classical music.
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